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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

El Salvador 2005 Journal XV

Our second community visit brought us to another PROGRESO project. This community has many similarities to Laura Lopez. Like most of the communities that we visited in El Salvador, it was resettled near the end of the war. These families did have to cope with the violence of the war. To safely move through the village, the people built trenches to keep the children safe from flying bullets.

The grave of the community’s patron is located on the grounds of the community.
These people have such a close connection to the land. These graves reinforce this connection wherever we go.

This grave is located on the community land. Actually, two insurgents are buried on this site. This is an out of the way location, but the community wanted us to see this memorial.

The community presentation was much the same as before. These communities are very well organized and they present their needs in a way that leaves no doubt what is expected of donors. We were more uncomfortable with this presentation. We felt that much was expected of us and there was too much of a focus on the problems that the community were facing, but little information on how the community was solving their own challenges.

We talked about this at length at our evening debriefing. I think at this point, we were getting exhausted by the volume of information we were taking in and more than a little overwhelmed. I really believe that these communities present what visiting delegations want to hear. What are the problems and what can we do to make a concrete difference in the lives of your people. In the case of this community the real need was a water transfer system. To me it makes sense that you would concentrate on this. If you had functioned with a faulty water system for 14 years I can see how that would be a focus. These communities have really done a great deal - remember the trenches – but it is very difficult for them to sustain their efforts without outside assistance. That is why organizations like CRIPDES exist and why we support them. This is the reality in a poor country struggling to recover from war.

faulty water system that awaits repair

Saturday, April 10, 2010

El Salvador 2005 Journal XIV

community meeting in Laura Lopez

I was struck by Laura Lopez’s plan for the future.  This is not a community that despairs for its future.  They see a way out.  Their plan includes the following:

v  A Community Centre for meetings – we met in a classroom.  This is illegal, and if the government knew Laura Lopez was doing this they could lose the meager funding they now receive.  Community meetings are not even supposed to be held on school grounds!

v  A community bakery – they also want to train their youth to become bakers.  Local trades are very important.

v  Chairs for their church.  They are currently using old school chairs.

v  Trade and vocational training centre – this to me is key.  There needs to be some chance for young people to acquire the skills they and the community needs.  They need bakers, masons, carpenters, electricians and mechanics.  This represents an exciting project with real potential for the future.

We gained a great deal of information from Laura Lopez.  This is an exciting community.  I think they have the fight in them to make a real future for their families.  This is how development should happen.  Look to local communities and make changes that make sense to these people.  Give them the power and resources to create their own future.

lunch in Laura Lopez